Some of the most devastating workplace injuries are those caused when an employee falls. In fact, working just six feet above the ground puts workers at serious risk for fall-related injuries. It may be hard to imagine fatal injuries resulting from falling relatively short distances; however, research has shown that regardless of height, when workers fall off ladders and scaffolding they often fall backwards. This can result in serious injuries to the head that may prove fatal.
Falls from heights account for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the construction industry. The data shows that more than 200 construction workers are killed and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falling from heights each year. Yet, like so many other needless workplace injuries, falls in the workplace are most often due to a careless oversight that could have been prevented.
As a result, OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Occupational Research Agenda. The organizations have developed the Fall Prevention Campaign, to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards. The campaign focuses on reducing the occurrences of falling in the workplace with three simple steps.
When working from heights, OSHA urges employers to plan each project ahead of time. Deciding what tasks are necessary before beginning the work will allow employers to identify the equipment that is needed. Scoping out the job ahead of time gives employers and work crews the opportunity to determine potential fall hazards. Job costs can be estimated after the planning process is complete and necessary adjustments in the budget should be made for purchasing the proper equipment.
Once the job has been planned and safety hazards identified, employers must provide the right equipment to do the job safely. For example, a roofing company must make sure employees have ladders of the proper style and height to reach the roof of a particular home.
All the necessary tools and equipment should be purchased and delivered to the job site before the job begins. When working at dangerous heights, risks of serious injury can also be greatly reduced when employers provide personal safety equipment for all employees. For example, a personal fall arrest system (PFAS) is one way to keep workers safe from vertical falls. If an employer chooses this option, harnesses must be fitted for each individual employee, and the system must be regularly inspected for safe use.
The third component of the Fall Prevention Campaign includes worker training. This may be the most important component of the fall prevention effort. Workers should be trained to identify fall hazards and learn how to properly set up and use the equipment provided on each job. Employee training is extensive and focuses on ladder safety, scaffold setup, and avoiding roof fall hazards.
If you have been injured in a workplace fall, notify your employer and contact a Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyer at AlpernSchubert P.C. Our experienced work injury attorneys have the knowledge and skill necessary to successfully navigate the legal system. Schedule a free and confidential consultation in our Pittsburgh offices by calling 800-243-6095 or contact us online. From our offices in Pittsburgh, we represent clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including those in Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.